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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: North
Michelle Williams
Tuesday, September 10
Reflections, September 10, 2002
Itís actually still September 9th here in Wyoming but this computer is hard-wired to live by east coast time. Just like me. Iím a little overwhelmed with the events of the past year, both globally and personally, and it is difficult to emotionally negotiate these events with any clarity. I feel strange about not being in New York tomorrow, but then again I feel strange not being there every day. And yet Iím so thankful to be exactly where I am. And had 9/11 not happened, I would not be an EMT, and I would not be here in Wyoming. I would also not have discovered my own capabilities, my rawest weaknesses, my strongest desires, my most glaring faults. I have learned that I want to continue in emergency medicine, that I am good at it, indeed, better than many Iíve seen. I have also learned that my path towards enlightenment, towards being a truly good and wise person, stretches ever longer, and that the diversions on this path only multiply the faster I try to walk. Iíve learned that bluebells are often purple, that environmentalists are not always thinking for the good of the land, that I do not always do the right thing. I knew all of this in the back of my mind, somewhere. But this trek has raised my awareness on so many levels, about so many different things, that I have to kow-tow to the powers that be led me to this particular step on my path.

I am continuing this on the night of September 10th, after a dinner of salmon (or tofu), asparagus with garlic and lemon, and basmati rice. Yet another thing Iíve learned in the past 2 months: how to cook fabulous dinners for 15 people.

This morning I hiked in the Teton National Forest with Bob A, Cheryl and Stephen. We chose the Taggart Creek Trail because it was a short loop and we had errands to run in the afternoon. Even the drive to the trailhead was inspiring- the Grand Tetons are simply magnificent, from any angle, at any time of day. As we drove, we saw paragliders swooping their way over the mountains, looping wildly enough to scare us but then landing beautifully in the meadows below. Iíve never paraglided, or skydived, or really done anything at any terrific height. I may never, but it tempts me. We reached the trailhead and chose our route, hiking far to the north of Taggart Lake in hopes of seeing Bradley Lake as well. We met several people on the way, including a couple from Durango, Colorado, who upon hearing I was from New York, asked if I had been there when ďitĒ happened. Tourists and new acquaintances asked me that same question for months after the attacks but I realized today how long itís been since a stranger brought it up. I said yes, Iíd been there, yes, I watched the towers fall, yes, it was awful, but that yes, today was a beautiful day.

We continued hiking and after another mile, Stephen stopped short and pointed out a deer, a sweet doe, just a foot or two off the path. Wildlife can be so silent that you literally do not notice them until you are on top of them- and sometimes you donít even notice them at all. She didnít run immediately; in fact, she was the least timid deer Iíve ever seen. She was a silvery grey color, unlike the reddish deer Iíve seen in other parts of the country, and she munched on some leaves before deciding we were too close. Even then, she more ambled than ran as she moved down the trail away from us.

The trail led us high above Taggart Lake, and the smooth water gave us a gorgeous reflection of the Teton Range. We finally reached a crossroads, and we bushwhacked up a small hill to gaze at Bradley Lake through the trees. But the views we had of Taggart were calling us, and we took the switchback that promised to take us closer to the water. The trail looped back and down, and within a mile we were found a small path that led directly to the shore. We stepped through the final line of trees and this pristine, clear, silent, beautiful lake was ours. We decided to stop for lunch, and each of us found a large rock on the shoreline to call home, even if just for a few minutes. My rock stretched out into the lake. I pulled out my apple and gorp and snacked while I watched tiny fish the size of tadpoles race near my feet. I didnít talk to my companions too much- I was too busy falling in love. Half an hour later, when Stephen pointed out that we had to leave, I realized that I had found a ďspotĒ, a place on earth where time seems to stop, a place that will call me for the rest of my life. This spot was peace. Before I dragged myself away, I watched a family of ducks go fishing. It was hysterical- first they just sort of merrily paddle along, occasionally sticking their faces underwater to check out the scenery, and then they dive like mad, splashing and kicking and making all kinds of noise. And not very gracefully.

But we did have to leave, although the spot is now imprinted on my homing beacon, and we were about a mile from the trailhead when Stephen quietly cautioned us off the trail. He was in the lead, and he had spooked a bear cub. Where thereís a cub, thereís a very defensive mother. We bushwhacked down the hill away from the trail, and away from where he saw the cub, and we were lucky- no mom to be seen. We safely reached the cars and started driving home, thinking the excitement of the day was over. We took the long way, through the forest rather than on the highway, and within five miles came upon about fifteen people out of their cars with cameras pointed towards the hillside. ďWhat do you see?Ē I asked out the window. ďA bear!Ē was the hushed reply. In seconds we were among the photographers and were rewarded with a perfect view of a cinnamon-colored black bear, just up the hill, busily munching on berries. He was ignoring us entirely, intent on his meal. Or perhaps he was performing, enjoying the attention. Either way, itís the best view of a bear Iíve ever had. I have to say, he looked awfully cuddly. Yes, yes, I know how dangerous they are, Iíd never approach one, etc., etc., but he was cute.

We returned to town, ran errands, came home and cooked dinner. And through it all, I canít stop thinking about my family, about New York, about tomorrow. Part of me is glad not to be there- I donít know that I want to experience the media hoopla, and God knows I donít need to watch the buildings burn and fall again on TV. I donít need any reminders- Iíve forgotten nothing. But at the same time, I wish I could be at Union Square, where I spent so much time last year. I wish more than anything I could be with my New York family, my brothers Sean and Ian, my almost sisters Tessa and Jordana, my best friend Hayley. I wish we could be joined by my family in the rest of the country, even if just a head count, a confirmation that we are all here, all alive, all together. Instead, I am here with a surrogate family, a gaggle of strangers turned friends, bonded by a common mission. I will wake tomorrow to a Grand Teton sunrise, make lunches for the trekkers, and check Danaís torn ankle ligament before we send them on their next backpacking trip. And I will think of the folks who, a year ago tomorrow morning, left to go to work at the Pentagon for the last time, of the people who boarded four doomed flights. I will think of the 3,021 souls that New York has missed for a year, and of the 8 million who are still there, and of the five in particular who are looking forward to me coming home.

Lots of love to my city, and to the entire world. Be good to each other tomorrow.
for Tuesday, September 10
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: North
Michelle Williams
No rest for the wicked-- Michelle Williams spends a day at the office, typing up journal entries for the trekkers

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List of All Journal Entries
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Thursday, September 19
Michelle Williams
Back on the Green River
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Tuesday, September 17
Michelle Williams
Two Days In A Canoe
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Monday, September 16
Michelle Williams
Jammie Pants and a Wood Cabin
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Saturday, September 14
Michelle Williams
Wild Horses!
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Friday, September 13
Michelle Williams
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Tuesday, September 10
Michelle Williams
Reflections, September 10, 2002
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Sunday, September 8
Michelle Williams
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Saturday, September 7
Michelle Williams
Saturday Night Near Jackson Hole
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Thursday, September 5
Michelle Williams
Yellowstone
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Wednesday, September 4
Michelle Williams
Is it Wednesday?
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Sunday, September 1
Michelle Williams
Fall In Idaho
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Saturday, August 31
Michelle Williams
Saturday Morning, Day 32
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Thursday, August 29
Michelle Williams
Hump Day
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Wednesday, August 28
Michelle Williams
A Ghost Town, A Dug-out Canoe, A Birthday and A Compound Fracture
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Monday, August 26
Michelle Williams
Oh, Happy Day
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Sunday, August 25
Michelle Williams
Sunday, August 25th
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Saturday, August 24
Michelle Williams
A Better Day Already
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Friday, August 23
Michelle Williams
A Challenging Day
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Wednesday, August 21
Michelle Williams
Wednesday, August 21
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Tuesday, August 20
Michelle Williams
Tuesday, August 20
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Monday, August 19
Michelle Williams
Monday, August 19
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Sunday, August 18
Michelle Williams
Easy Like...
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Saturday, August 17
Michelle Williams
More on Saturday, August 17th
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Saturday, August 17
Michelle Williams
Saturday, August 17th
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Thursday, August 15
Michelle Williams
Thursday, August 15th
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Wednesday, August 14
Michelle Williams
My Top Ten List
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Tuesday, August 13
Michelle Williams
Freezing and Fires
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Monday, August 12
Michelle Williams
Explore the River
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Saturday, August 10
Michelle Williams
   >> more...

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Friday, August 9
Michelle Williams
   >> more...

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Thursday, August 8
Michelle Williams
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